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Punch bowl

Punch bowl

  • Place of origin:

    Liverpool (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Herculaneum Factory (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware transfer-printed and painted with enamels and with oil-gilding

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Charles Schreiber, Esq., MP, and Lady Charlotte Elizabeth Schreiber

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 118a, case 5

Object Type
A suitable ceramic bowl was soon devised for the consumption at many social levels of the new hot drink known as punch, which had first appeared in England around 1680. At first delftware (tin-glazed earthenware) was used, later white or brown stoneware, and finally creamware and Pearlware (types of light-coloured pottery). Heavy cut glass was occasionally used, despite its unsuitability for hot drinks and use by rowdy revellers. But the ideal material for punch bowls was Chinese porcelain, and many such bowls were regularly being imported by the end of the 17th century.

This huge creamware bowl is one of the largest earthenware examples to survive. Though unmarked, it may reasonably be attributed to the Herculaneum factory at Liverpool, which made large punch bowls in both crearmware and stoneware.

By the late 18th century the old warring Whig and Tory political clubs, together with the semi-secret Jacobite clubs (for supporters of the exiled Stuart pretenders to the throne), had dwindled away. There were, however, still many gentlemen's drinking clubs that catered for various tastes, professions and social classes. As this splendidly decorated bowl testifies, some still remain secret. Apart from the enigma of the patriotic English and Latin inscriptions, a further puzzle is that Lady Charlotte Schreiber (1813-1895) acquired the bowl in Sweden. Perhaps it served some group of gentlemen involved in the Baltic sea trade, but if so, what is the significance of the cat?

Physical description

Punch bowl of earthenware transfer-printed and painted with enamels. Inside is painted a seated cat and round the rim is the inscription 'THE HONOURABLE, SOCIETY, PRO MATRIA'. Outside are four detached prints representing Pyramus and Thisbe, lovers under a tree and a man with a cudgel coming over style behind them, Narcissus gazing into a pool, and two lovers consisting of a man kneeling to a protesting woman. Traces of oil-gilding round the rim.

Place of Origin

Liverpool (made)


ca. 1800 (made)


Herculaneum Factory (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Earthenware transfer-printed and painted with enamels and with oil-gilding

Marks and inscriptions

Inside round the rim


Height: 15.6 cm, Diameter: 35.5 cm

Object history note

The subject of Pyramus and Thisbe is copied from an engraving dated 1767 by Nicolas de Launay after C. Monnet, forming Pl. 49 in Vol. II of Les Métamorphoses d'Ovide, published in Paris in 1768. Narcissus is copied from Pl. 46 in Vol. I, published in 1767, engraved by Pierre-François Basan after C. Monnet.

Descriptive line

Punch bowl of earthenware transfer-printed and painted with enamels, Herculaneum Factory, Liverpool, ca. 1800.

Labels and date

British Galleries:
Punch, a hot, spiced drink, introduced from India in the 1690's and was served from large punchbowls. The glasses were filled from punch ladles, usually silver with a horn handle. Punch was often produced on special occasions, but was also drunk freely at every level of society. [27/03/2003]




Transfer printed; Painted; Oil gilded

Subjects depicted

Men; Women; Love; Cat; Tree


Ceramics; British Galleries; Earthenware


Ceramics Collection

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